Dance Africa Chicago 2003 | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Dance Africa Chicago 2003



The 13th incarnation of this annual festival--this year called "Freedom!"--seems more focused on social commentary than previous showcases have been. Described as controversial and outspoken, South African rap/hip-hop group Prophets of da City has had an album banned but has also enjoyed considerable recognition, performing at Nelson Mandela's inauguration. They're more a music group than a dance group, rapping and turntabling in ways that combine Western influences and traditional African forms of chanting and drumming, but one of them, Ramone De Wet, is brilliant at poppin' and lockin'. At a preview I was able to see only one other dancer--of the four, one was recovering from knee surgery and another was ill--but he was great at break dancing, spinning like a leaf in the wind. Also on the program is Jamaican-American poet Staceyann Chin, who's created Jagged Ledges, a piece on HIV/AIDS, with Chicago's Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, headed by Kevin Iega Jeff and Gary Abbott. Resurrection Dance Theatre of Haiti, formed in 1985, grew out of the Saint Joseph's Home for Boys, an orphanage in Port-au-Prince. Now composed of 12 young men between the ages of 8 and 18, the group performs traditional Haitian dance and music and is responsible for the program's closing number, The Dance of New Life, which tells the story of one of its members, who has cerebral palsy. Coyaba Dance Theater, based in Washingon, D.C., replaces the originally scheduled group, Fua Dia Congo; like it, the troupe performs traditional music and dances of West Africa. Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State, 312-902-1500; 312-344-7070 for groups of ten or more and for information. Through October 19: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 2 PM. $24-$36.

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